Wisdom teeth. Do I have them? Do I have to remove them? Can I keep them? With all these myths about wisdom teeth and wisdom teeth extractions doing the rounds, it can be difficult to separate bits of truth from commonly-held misconceptions. These days, everyone has something to say. But what does our resident dentist, Dr Mok have to say?

What are wisdom teeth?

Wisdom teeth are your final set of molars to erupt, usually when you are in your late teens or early twenties. When properly aligned, your wisdom teeth can come in handy as an extra set of teeth to assist in chewing; but when they are improperly aligned, they can cause damage to your surrounding teeth, jawbone or the nerves. Where your wisdom teeth have only partially erupted- that is, when only a small part of the tooth has broken through the gum, it can cause bacteria to enter around the teeth, leading to infection. Furthermore, brushing and flossing becomes difficult to manage due to the awkward positioning of the partially erupted wisdom teeth, making these teeth more prone to decay and periodontal disease (gum disease).

Those wisdom teeth myths

Knowing the facts, can help you make decisions about your wisdom teeth. So, here are some common myths about wisdom teeth debunked by the team at G-Dental:

Myth#1: Everybody has wisdom teeth

No, Not true. Not everybody has wisdom teeth. For some people, the wisdom teeth lie beneath the gums and never erupt. Sometimes, people may have just one wisdom tooth, whilst others may have 2, or 3, or even the complete set of four. And, of course, some people don’t have any wisdom teeth at all!

Myth#2: Wisdom teeth will always have to be extracted

Not at all. If your wisdom teeth are properly aligned and are not causing any problems, they don’t need to be extracted. However, where your wisdom teeth are exerting pressure on your teeth, or have begun to decay, an extraction will be necessary. Sometimes, your wisdom teeth may cause acute headaches, in which case an extraction should really be considered.

Myth#3: Wisdom teeth don’t serve any purpose

Although we can do without these teeth, it doesn’t mean that they are without purpose. Healthy wisdom teeth have the function of assisting with chewing. Because we have plenty of soft foods to choose from, as well as knives and forks that can tear tougher foods into small, easy-to-chew pieces, wisdom teeth are not as important as they used to be during the time of our ancestors. Still, they do have a purpose.

Myth#4: It’s best to extract wisdom teeth when you are young

The decision to extract your wisdom teeth should not be based on age. Fair enough, the extraction and recovery processes may be easier when you are young. However, the only thing that should influence your decision is the effect that your wisdom teeth may have on your oral health, should they remain in your mouth. You could have your wisdom teeth around for a long time without requiring an extraction because they may not be impacting your oral health at all. 

Myth#5: Your dentist can predict when your wisdom will erupt and how they will be positioned following the eruption

Through dental X-Rays, your dentist can tell you whether or not you have wisdom teeth. However, your dentist will not be able to predict when your wisdom teeth will erupt, or how they will be positioned once they erupt.

Myth#6: You can still smoke and drink following an extraction, as long as it isn’t excessive

People often choose to bypass the instructions given by dentists to avoid smoking and consuming alcohol following an extraction. After your wisdom teeth have been extracted, it is essential that a blood clot is formed in the tooth sockets to allow for proper healing. Smoking and drinking can increase the chances of the blood clot being dislodged or failing to form, leading to a condition called dry socket. Dry socket results in the inflammation of the jawbone that is left exposed to air and debris. After an extraction, you should wait at least 3 days before smoking and drinking. At G Dental, here in Greensborough, we aim to properly inform you about any dental procedures you may require, so that the best decision can be made for you and your teeth. Whether you’re concerned about your wisdom teeth or just need a few of your questions answered- give us a call! We’re always happy to help!